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Teaching Character Through Subjects

JUBILEE CENTRE FOR CHARACTER AND VIRTUES The Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues is a unique and leading centre for the examination of how character and virtues impact on individuals and society. The Centre was founded in 2012, by Professor James Arthur, with a multi-million pound grant from the John Templeton Foundation. Based at the University of Birmingham, it has a dedicated team of 30 academics from a range of disciplines, including: philosophy, psychology, education, theology and sociology. With its focus on excellence, the Centre has a robust and rigorous research and evidence-based approach that is objective and non-political. It offers world-class research on the importance of developing good character and virtues, and the benefits they bring to individuals and society. In undertaking its own innovative research, the Centre also seeks to partner with leading academics from other universities around the world and to develop strong strategic partnerships. A key conviction underlying the existence of the Centre is that the virtues that make up a good character can be learnt and taught. The Centre believes that these have largely been neglected in schools and in the professions. It is also a key conviction that the more people exhibit good character and virtues, the healthier our society is. As such, the Centre undertakes development projects seeking to promote the practical applications of its research evidence.

Teaching Character Through Subjects












Recently, everyone has been talking about character education – policy makers, parents, teachers, employers and young people. But character education is not a new fad, it is an idea dating back to the ancient Greeks and in particular the philosopher Aristotle. Aristotle believed that the purpose of life was to flourish and that in order flourish you must possess good character. Good character consists of having a number of virtues, but most importantly knowing what to do and what not to do at the right time, in the right place. This is what he called Phronesis, or practical wisdom. All good education should be character education as it should help children and young people develop virtues and practical wisdom that will enable them to flourish. Through taught and caught approaches to character education, schools and teachers can, amongst other things, help children and students; learn the language of character; debate, discuss and critically evaluate moral dilemmas; take part in experiences that ‘test’ character; and, reflect on them afterwards. The Department for Education funded Teaching Character Through Subjects programme shows that every teacher in every classroom can take responsibility for developing character in their students by using the curriculum as the foundation for developing key virtues. For each of the fourteen subjects featured in this publication, the virtues that might be considered most closely linked to them are emphasised. The aim of the publication is to inspire teachers to make links between their subject and character education. It is to show that character and attainment are not mutually exclusive, but as the Secretary of State for Education, Nicky Morgan MP, argues, ‘two sides of the same coin’. Character education should not be simply assumed, otherwise it is in danger of becoming a largely unconscious part of schooling. This publication demonstrates how all secondary school teachers can plan teaching programmes that make character education an intentional, organised and reflective part of their day-to-day practice. Professor James Arthur Director, Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues Deputy Pro-Vice-Chancellor, University of Birmingham



Teaching Character Through Subjects


‘Intelligence plus character-that is the goal of true education’ Martin Luther King

The Teaching Character Through Subjects project was built on a firm belief that character education, both implicit and explicit, can and should permeate all subjects as well as the general ethos, culture and community of a school. The aim of the Teaching Character Through Subjects project was to create new, innovative, trialled and tested teaching resources that will inspire secondary school teachers in England to develop key character virtues in their students through and within their specialist subjects. It was also to bring about a re-invigorated awareness from teachers that developing character in and outside the classroom can be undertaken alongside other priorities such as attainment, behaviour and employability. If schools are serious about developing the character of their students then all teachers have a responsibility to seek out opportunities within the curriculum to do so. Educating character through curriculum subjects enables students to develop a personal rationale for why character is important; learn the language of character and become ‘virtue literate’; take part in activities that allow for the positive exploration of character; and, facilitate space for students to reflect on personal character strengths and weaknesses. This publication showcases suites of teaching materials that show how character virtues, prioritised by the Department for Education, such as honesty, integrity, resilience, community spirit, tolerance and conscientiousness can be ‘educated’ through 14 curriculum subjects. The project was subjected, from the outset, to a comprehensive programme of evaluation. This evaluation was designed to rigorously test the effectiveness of the teaching and learning materials to ensure they were fit for purpose. The Teaching Character Through Subjects project demonstrates that character and intelligence are not only the basis of good education, but also mutually supportive of each other. Dr. Tom Harrison, Matt Bawden, Lee Rogerson MBE

Teaching Character Through Subjects

WHAT IS CHARACTER EDUCATION? Exploring the conceptual and theoretical underpinnings of character education

In the context of this project, any form of moral education focusing on the development of virtues as stable qualities of character with the aim of promoting human flourishing (eudaimonia), and founded on (some) general theory of virtue ethics, may be considered to fall under the umbrella of character education. Our particular focus at the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues is on Aristotelian character education, based on reconstructed Aristotelianism (informed by current social scientific findings) rather than mere Aristotelian textual analysis. Virtues, as we understand them, are settled (stable and consistent) qualities of character, concerned with morally praiseworthy conduct in specific (significant and distinguishable) spheres of human life. Each character quality of this sort typically comprises a unique set of attention, emotion, desire, behaviour and a certain comportment or style of expression. The compassionate person thus notices easily and attends to situations in which the lot of others has been undeservedly compromised, feels for the needs of those who have suffered this undeserved misfortune, desires that their misfortune be reversed, acts for the relevant (ethical) reasons in ways conducive to that goal and exudes an aura of empathy and care. The virtues comprise a reason-responsive, morally evaluable and educable sub-set of our personality traits. When we consider why we ground our work in Aristotelian character education, rather than some other paradigm, there is both a long and a short answer. The long answer is that it is better grounded in a viable moral theory and a richer conceptual repertoire; the short that it is simply more palatable than the alternatives. The alternative paradigms of character education tend to be more instrumental, focusing in on behaviour or attainment, typically seeing character as an umbrella term for all so-called ‘soft’ personality skills, with an emphasis on performance virtues. We take an approach which focuses on moral virtues. The primary importance of such an approach is the intrinsic value of the virtues themselves to lead a flourishing life; with improved behaviour and

attainment likely secondary benefits. There is also an over-arching meta-virtue of good sense (phronesis) that is missing in the alternatives. The impact of a focus on performance and intellectual virtues is relatively easy to measure (e.g. the KIPP schools in the USA) and there are many scales, surveys, and methods for doing so. The impact of the cultivation of moral virtue is more difficult to measure (‘doing the right things for the right reasons’). This is because measurement often assumes a causal chain: Understanding virtue-based reasons for doing the good => doing the good However, most existing instruments can only measure cause and effect separately in these cases. In this project, the various teachers were asked to evaluate their own resources and the resources of others. They created materials to follow a particular developmental process we term ‘the caterpillar process’ and that needs to be flexible and capable of use in a range of educational settings, and with varying age groups and abilities. As such, those resources, spread across fourteen subjects, seek to answer a need in schools. When reading through these materials, arranged in suites of lessons, they ought to inspire rather than prescribe. Although they have already been shown to work in more than one setting, they are better viewed as keys to the development of your own future character resources. The sections exploring how to teach character education and the character education curriculum journey proffer a narrative by which to better follow the suites of lessons. Each suite has detailed key information, provided by the author, to set the context followed by lesson plans and resources. Good luck with your work! Professor Kristján Kristjánsson Deputy Director, Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues Professor of Character & Virtue Ethics, University of Birmingham



Teaching Character Through Subjects


The Jubilee Centre’s Framework for Character Education in Schools outlines a four part typology of virtue – Moral, Civic, Performance and Intellectual. The table below describes each of the four types. Typology of Virtues Moral Virtues: Those virtues that enable us to respond well to situations in any area of experience.

Intellectual Virtues: Those virtues that are necessary for right action and correct thinking. They are required for the pursuit of knowledge, truth and understanding.

Civic Virtues: Those virtues that are necessary for engaged and responsible citizenship and political literacy. A part of good character involves the active display of civic virtues for the benefit of others and society more generally.

Performance Virtues: Those virtues that can be used for both good and bad ends; the qualities that enable us to manage our lives effectively. The ultimate value of these virtues is being enablers and vehicles of the moral, civic and intellectual virtues.

The chart below provides an overview of the virtues, prioritised by the Department for Education, for this project organised by subject. Additional virtues, such as kindness and empathy, also appear within the materials and are summarised on the subject pages. Virtues explored through the 14 curriculum subjects Type Virtue

Maths English Science History Geo Lang Art Citizen Comp Design Music PE PSHE RE

Moral Tolerance Respect Honesty Integrity Dignity Intellectual Curiosity Conscientiousness Focus Civic

Neighbourliness Community Spirit Performance Perseverance Resilience & Grit Motivation &Ambition Drive Confidence Optimism

Teaching Character Through Subjects


Character is largely caught through role-modelling and emotional transmission and, therefore, the ethos and culture of schools is hugely important. Character can also be taught, or perhaps more accurately, educated. Teaching character provides young people with the language and tools to help them develop their characters. Making character education explicit also makes it visible in schools and provides students with a rationale for why it is important. Character could be educated through discrete lessons, which might encompass other whole school and curriculum areas such as personal development, SMSC and PSHE, or can be taught through curriculum subjects. With both approaches, it is important to have some guiding, structural principles and concepts that give coherence to the overall curriculum that the students experience. It is these principles that were applied in the development of the lesson plans and materials for the 14 subjects. They enable teachers to build upwards on very solid foundations of learning, constantly reinforcing the concepts with ever more detailed and complex teaching as time goes on. Perhaps chief amongst these concepts and principles is the precise nature of the way virtue is learned. This is made up of three interrelated and mutually supporting aspects: virtue knowledge, virtue reasoning and virtue practice, which can be turned into a process, known as the ‘caterpillar process’. Virtue knowledge depends upon being able to do the following things: 1. recognise and name particular virtues; 2. recognise and name situations which call for those particular virtues by… 3. …recognising the emotions we and others feel in particular situations; 4. observing what it is that people who have developed the virtue can do particularly well. Virtue reasoning involves: 1. appreciating why a particular virtue is good by understanding how it benefits individuals and communities; 2. understanding the ‘middle-way’: doing the right thing, at the right time, in the right way, towards the right person and for the right reasons;

understanding that there are middle ways of feeling and acting in any situation and that these middle ways are the virtue; 3. giving (our own) and taking (from others) good reasons for our actions; 4. developing awareness of how we typically act in certain situations and making decisions about what habits we might need to change. Virtue reasoning not only depends upon virtue knowledge, but also enriches it. It takes those building blocks of knowledge and applies them to awareness of our inner world and our own character development, and an awareness of our social world and our impact upon it. Virtue practice takes the elements of knowledge and reasoning and helps a person to incorporate them into their sense of self through actually practising the virtues and reflecting on the impact that this practice has on us. It is made up of the following elements: 1. putting the virtue(s) into action; 2. observing and learning from others who put the virtues into action; 3. the ability to reflect upon events that have happened, to learn from them and to grow in understanding of how to act well; 4. consciously and deliberately forming habits of virtuous action, with awareness of the person we are becoming. It is with this third element of character education that we see learning about virtue take a stride beyond the classroom. Virtue practice is concerned with enabling children to recognise episodes in their lives where virtue is required, to draw upon virtue knowledge and reasoning to act deliberately and then to reflect on what happened in order to learn for next time. Of central importance to the success of character education, is the opportunity for children to develop an internal language and process of developing in virtue: one that is simple, clear and effective. The section below describes a five-stage process called the caterpillar process, after Eric Carle’s popular children’s book The Very Hungry Caterpillar.



Teaching Character Through Subjects

The ‘caterpillar process’ has five stages, which reflect knowledge, reasoning and practice, and has the added benefit of being an image that might be easy to remember. The five stages are as follows. 1. Stop. This involves the ability to either pause before making a decision, or to pause afterwards to reflect upon decisions that we have taken. It is based upon the skills of emotional regulation that enable us to pause before leaping in to a situation. 2. Notice. This involves gathering more information about the situations we find ourselves in and instead of just going with our first thoughts, finding out more in an attempt to see situations as they are, rather than as we would like them to be. 3. Look. This involves observing our own emotions and the emotions of others. The emotions give us information about what we perceive and what others perceive and they are not always appropriate. The middle way encourages us to feel the right things, at the right time, in the right way, towards the right people, for the right reasons. 4. Listen. This involves the giving and taking of reasons for the things that we decide to do and the feelings that we have. Aristotle encourages us to educate the emotions with reason and educate reason with emotion to slowly refine our responses. This stage also encourages us to listen to our knowledge of the virtues and apply it practically to situations. 5. Caterpillar. In The Very Hungry Caterpillar, the colours of the food the caterpillar eats end up on the wings of the butterfly he becomes. In the same way, what we think, feel, say and do end up ‘colouring’ the person that we are becoming. This final step involves reflecting upon how we have responded across the previous four stages, with a view to changing responses that are lacking in virtue. This reflective process can be applied to any learning done across the four domains of virtue, as any form of learning involves pausing, gathering information, feeling, thinking and reflecting to improve future performance. Ian Morris Head of Wellbeing, Wellington College

Teaching Character Through Subjects


Project Purpose The purpose of the project was to explore ways character could be taught across the curriculum and applied in a range of school contexts. Further, we wished to produce materials that improved students’ knowledge, understanding and ability to apply the key character virtues. Finally, we sought positive influence through the use of these materials on attainment, behaviour, future employability, and school relationships. Over 1,750 students trialled and reviewed the materials. More than fifty secondary school teachers developed, delivered and revised the materials.

PROJECT COMMISSIONED - APRIL 2015 Jubilee Centre staff developed principles, philosophical approaches, framework and delivery model for the project.

28 PARTNER SCHOOLS RECRUITED - MAY 2015 Teachers were identified as character education experts and recruited from twenty-eight English Secondary schools, serving students from a wide range of backgrounds.


PHASE 1: LAUNCH CONFERENCE - JULY 2015 During a two-day residential Jubilee Centre staff explained the project, academic theory, and practical considerations. Teachers drafted their initial ideas and peer review.

EXPERT REVIEW - AUGUST 2015 All teacher-designed materials reviewed by external character education experts.


PHASE 2: FIRST TRIAL OF MATERIALS - SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER 2015 Twenty-eight teachers within fourteen subjects developed and trialled resources in schools across England.

QUALITY ASSURANCE - OCTOBER-NOVEMBER 2015 During Phase 2, Jubilee Centre staff observed a range of lessons, interviewed teachers, and conducted student focus groups.


PHASE 3: SECOND TRIAL OF MATERIALS - DECEMBER-FEBRUARY 2016 Four schools were selected from the initial twenty-eight to conduct large-scale trials involving a minimum of four subjects each. The remaining schools engaged in peer review of subject materials.

DEVELOP & DESIGN OF FINAL MATERIALS - MARCH 2016 Materials were revised in light of evaluation. Website and resources were developed and designed and made available for download.

EVALUATION REPORT - APRIL 2016 Data from the project analysed and compiled, findings recorded in an evaluation and impact report.

OFFICIAL LAUNCH EVENT - JUNE 2016 Materials launched at the Association for Character Education (ACE) inaugural conference, University of Birmingham School.

THE OUTCOME A dedicated, web-based, resource bank for fourteen secondary school curriculum subjects that explores character education through and within these areas across the age-range 11-16.



Teaching Character Through Subjects

INTRODUCTION TO THE SUBJECT PAGES This project explores the development of character education materials across fourteen secondary school curriculum subjects. Each has detailed introductory notes and lesson materials, arranged as suites of resources.

The lesson plans and supporting materials can be downloaded for free in full from: The following pages provide clear outlines of the lesson plans. For the subjects, you will find an overview of the virtues each explores, and a short content summary. The materials are intended to inspire, and can be adapted by teachers to fit their own context and setting.

Teaching Character Through Subjects


MATHEMATICS ‘A high-quality mathematics education … provides a foundation for understanding the world.’ DfE National Curriculum Purpose of Study 2013




Virtues Explored: Perseverance, motivation, focus, resilience, and confidence are explored by looking at indices and circle theorems at KS4.

Virtues Explored: Neighbourliness, community spirit and focus are explored through Statistics in KS4.

Virtues Explored: Tolerance and integrity are explored using statistics in KS3, though it is also relevant in KS4.

Here, the virtues are woven throughout the lessons. Students consider them whilst attempting to complete key aspects of mathematics. They are asked to consider their actions and see what that says about these virtues. Through questioning/discussions, students set targets and improve awareness of their abilities. Evidence of improvement is seen in how the students tackle the new tasks, after evaluating previous efforts.

Here, students complete a diary enabling them to assess their own actions using the ‘caterpillar process’. They access the strands, as appropriate, to help them develop their own knowledge of good character. This takes the form of an evaluation and synthesis of their own actions over the course of the 5 lessons.

This suite creates a situation where students are able to consider many different aspects of countries around the globe. There is a chance to express views, develop opinions, and understanding. The ‘caterpillar process’ provides opportunity for students to improve their own levels of tolerance, and approaches to integrity.

Notes for Other Subjects: Suite One is of great interest for those wishing to develop independent learning in any subject. Authors: Ruth Jennings Kings Langley School, Kings Langley & Hurpal Samra and Tanveer Sehejpal Nishkam High School, Birmingham.

Ruth explains that students, being more aware, demonstrate more perseverance and resilience, and therefore motivation. Hurpal is keen to see the suite as having wider impact than in Mathematics lessons alone. Tanveer has created materials to aid the review process at either end of the suite.

ENGLISH ‘A high-quality education in English will teach pupils to speak and write fluently so that they can communicate their ideas and emotions to others, and through their reading and listening, others can communicate with them. Through reading in particular, pupils have a chance to develop culturally, emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually.’ DfE National Curriculum Purpose of Study 2013



Virtues Explored: Community spirit, perseverance, respect, and dignity are explored through KS4 speaking & listening.

Virtues Explored: Honesty, integrity, confidence, and optimism are explored through KS3 work on Poetry.

These resources were initially trialled in KS4. Since then, they have been successfully developed and adapted for a variety of other settings and ages. The approach firstly raises student awareness of the specified virtues, asking them to consider how well they possess and demonstrate them. They are asked to notice them in others, identify how to use and improve performances, making the virtues aspirational. There are opportunities to use them in similar situations to the one demonstrated, assess and reflect.

The second suite explores poetry. The lessons gradually build the students’ skills in using drama to explore themes of virtue within a series of poems, ending with the pupils devising their own ‘virtue inspired’ poetry performance. The final lesson looks at poems that begin to explore what it means to be human: to live, to love, to die, to doubt, etc. and particularly focus on the idea that poems ‘should not mean but be’.

Notes for Other Subjects: Suite One has been trialled in other subject areas and in KS3 & 5. The principles would clearly work in other areas of the wider curriculum where speaking & listening are important skills. Suite Two encourages reading for pleasure and enables schools without discrete drama to do so within a poetry scheme of work. Authors: Lucy McCance South Dartmoor Community College, Ashburton & Rebecca Tigue University of Birmingham School, Birmingham. Lucy explains how the suite is based on the idea of an action research cycle where they begin a cycle and complete it by the end of the 5th lesson. Rebecca is producing materials here that will feature in a larger future study at her school and beyond.


Teaching Character Through Subjects

SCIENCE ‘A high-quality science education provides the foundations for understanding the world through the specific disciplines of biology, chemistry and physics.’ DfE National Curriculum Purpose of Study 2013



Virtues Explored: Respect, empathy, and honesty are explored in an introduction to Science in KS3, though it could be used in KS4 as well. It is relevant to any of the Sciences.

Virtues Explored: Moral virtues of honesty and cooperation, along with intellectual virtues of curiosity and resilience, are explored and developed in this KS3 module of work.

These materials are designed so the students have to identify and define each of the selected virtues at the start of, or as homework tasks before, the relevant lesson. This is important as it establishes them for the early stages of the ‘caterpillar process’. It is the final lesson where the students apply their knowledge and understanding to a summative task. The plenaries in each lesson engage students in reflecting on their virtue understanding and help them link these to what they have learned.

Students will develop curiosity throughout the lessons by exploring for themselves the layout, design and characteristics of the periodic table. Through the story of how new elements have been discovered, students will develop an understanding of how honesty and resilience are vital character virtues in scientific research. Before each task, students will identify the virtues needed to be successful, and at the end of each lesson students will reflect on the virtues used, and, where appropriate, will use the five stages of moral development to evaluate their progression.

Notes for Other Subjects: Suite One shows how a series of lessons can act as a broad, and yet specific, introduction to a faculty and not just a singular subject. This approach sees the suite of materials as more of a ‘hub’ to branch out from, similar to Suite One in the PSHE materials. Authors: Richard Farnan Harrogate Grammar School, Harrogate & David Ashmore University of Birmingham School, Birmingham School. Richard points us toward the plenary in lesson 3, on empathy, as being a prime example of great reflection. David says that by working in groups to learn the characteristics of metals and non-metals, students have to practice cooperation and kindness.

HISTORY ‘A high-quality history education will help pupils gain a coherent knowledge and understanding of Britain’s past and that of the wider world. It should inspire pupils’ curiosity to know more about the past.’ DfE National Curriculum Purpose of Study 2013



Virtues Explored: Resilience, respect and community spirit are explored when looking at the events of the First World War and the impact on soldiers.

Virtues Explored: Also focuses on the First World War, but much more on desertion, and explores integrity, respect, leadership, and courage.

During this suite of lessons the virtues are explicitly discussed (especially resilience). Students see a build-up of the qualities as the soldiers would see a build up during the war. They also focus on these virtues when completing a variety of objective led tasks over the course, with the evidence coming through discussion of experiences and specific writing activities, e.g. the letter in lesson 5. Furthermore, whilst at the start the students will be introduced to key qualities, or virtues, the idea is that they will later recognise and identify them for themselves.

This suite outlines how the students acquire, develop, consolidate and apply their understanding of both the subject content and virtues. The lessons give a strong and integrated emphasis to a consideration of moral dilemmas and decision-making, and to related ideas and identified key character qualities.

Notes for Other Subjects: Both suites take aspects of the same programme of study and then approach them in strikingly different ways. Inspiration can be drawn from their differing methodologies for developing materials in other subjects. Authors: Lisa Cohen Blue Coat Academy, Oldham & Lauren Taylor Swanshurst School, Birmingham.

Lisa has embedded the three virtues into both the pedagogy and content of her lessons. Lauren has also created booklets to show how the students’ understanding of integrity has been developed during the course of study and how they might apply respect.

Teaching Character Through Subjects

GEOGRAPHY ‘A high-quality geography education should inspire in pupils a curiosity and fascination about the world and its people that will remain with them for the rest of their lives.’ DfE National Curriculum Purpose of Study 2013



Virtues Explored: Neighbourliness and integrity are explored through a study of conflict in the Peak District National Park.

Virtues Explored: Honesty and integrity are explored in a KS3 project on settlements.

The suite focuses on the process of decisionmaking, a key component of geographical understanding. This is achieved by asking students to question what is a ‘good’ or virtuous decision, and how best to capture those elements that make up a successful decision. Students undergo a simulated decision-making process based on a true conflict at Stanton Moor, Derbyshire. This involves a quarry company, eco-warriors, the local community, Peak Park Authority and high courts. Students are tasked with at first playing different roles to simulate the viewpoints/decisions different groups may wish to make, before coming to their own decisions on the future of the quarry site.

In Suite Two each lesson is designed to focus on building students’ ability to form a balanced evaluation. Students are introduced to a range of evaluations – evaluating their own work, the work of others and of projects established in different countries. This means students are able to develop their own honesty and integrity, and to evaluate the character virtues of others.

Notes for Other Subjects: It is interesting to read through these two resources to see how quite similar virtues, explored in the same subject contexts, can be addressed in differing ways. Suite One is more precise over virtue acquisition, and Suite Two offers some interesting takes on evaluation. Authors: José Garcia Penistone Grammar School, Sheffield & Steph Stringer Harris Academy, Battersea. José explains how to make decisions is a generic learning process. Students are regularly asked to justify their decisions within the context of flood management, city centre redevelopment or economic development. Steph thought this resource made the students more reflective and critical in Geography.

LANGUAGES ‘A high-quality languages education should foster pupils’ curiosity and deepen their understanding of the world.’ DfE National Curriculum Purpose of Study 2013



Virtues Explored: Tolerance, respect, and curiosity are explored through a study of the French-speaking world, appropriate to KS3.

Virtues Explored: Courage, confidence, kindness and respect are explored in a topic on Food in KS3 French, though this is very flexible.

In Suite One, the character virtues of tolerance, respect and curiosity are introduced in the first lesson. Students then reflect on the virtues, and ways in which they demonstrated these, in their French lessons and in their general school life. They are revisited regularly throughout the teaching process to bring the lesson content back to the character virtues. The need for students to develop inter-cultural understanding is a key part of the programme of study for MFL at KS3.

The first lesson in this suite encourages the students to think about issues that arise for language learners, to discuss areas of language affected by character virtues. They then consider which character strengths might be important to a language learner. Lesson two helps students consider the implications of not being a ‘good’ language learner and to think of their own reactions to being in cross-cultural situations with little understanding of the language or culture. They look at a culture clash role-play as both a tourist and as a native person and how it can affect both sides. Lesson three offers an opportunity to apply their understanding of character to being an active and respectful listener and its relation to being a good

language learner. The final lessons allow the students to consolidate their learning via a presentation, think through the virtues and apply them in both speaking and listening. Notes for Other Subjects: Suite Two applies an interesting approach to speaking and listening, as well as subject motivation, which might be useful in other areas of the curriculum. Authors: Kathryn Crofts Woodbridge High School, Woodford & Julia Goode Kings Leadership Academy, Warrington. Kathryn explains how, as the DfE says ‘learning a foreign language is a liberation from insularity and provides an opening to other cultures.’ This need, she says, is unlikely to change. Julia employs stages of the ‘caterpillar process’, with great clarity, into each of her lessons.



Teaching Character Through Subjects

ART & DESIGN ‘A high-quality art and design education should engage, inspire and challenge pupils’. DfE National Curriculum Purpose of Study 2013



Virtues Explored: Honesty and integrity are explored in advertising in KS3.

Virtues Explored: Confidence and optimism are explored through a study of fragility and distortion in KS4.

This suite was conceived as a project initially aimed at KS3 but is certainly useful higher up the school. The students consider the effect of honesty and integrity on the successful creation of advertising materials. They are introduced to the specific virtues, and then view various facial expressions exploring how different faces alter people’s perception of a person’s behaviour. They proceed to consider colours and text before relating them to a chosen moral virtue and producing final posters.

Initially, these materials were trialled with KS4, but they are equally adaptable both up and down the school. The materials focus on confidence and optimism as keys to success in Art at GCSE. They might also be used during the year to reinvigorate classes as they enable students to understand the personal impact and development of confidence and optimism through discussion, self-evaluation and practical activity.

Notes for Other Subjects: Suite Two, on confidence and optimism, is easily transferable to many other subjects where you might wish to engage students who feel they struggle. The outcomes from Suite One might be very useful in wholeschool work on ethos. Authors: Natalie Jennings Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School, Ashbourne & Adam Goddard Aldercar High School, Langley Mill. Adam noted the students showed ‘genuine intrigue into the character virtues which has added an extra dimension to their learning. Natalie felt these materials, when used at the beginning of a school year, set up far higher personal expectations and stronger learning goals.

CITIZENSHIP ‘A high-quality citizenship education helps to provide pupils with knowledge, skills and understanding to prepare them to play a full and active part in society.’ DfE National Curriculum Purpose of Study 2013




Virtues Explored: : Respect and confidence in an exploration of the Police in KS3 Citizenship.

Virtues Explored: Through a project based around KS3/4 in-lesson PREVENT work suitable primarily to Citizenship delivery but also to a range of other subjects. Virtues such as conscientiousness, curiosity and focus are developed.

Virtues Explored: Resilience and community spirit in a KS3 project on the development of democratic government in the UK.

Debating skills involve students developing confidence and respect through preparation, feedback, peer review, and self-reflection. Discussions and self-reflection enable them to think through the virtues, how they are developed and the degree to which they, themselves, possess them.

This resource covers community contribution, human rights and problem solving amongst other areas. It follows a flexible pattern based upon the ‘caterpillar process’; fitting nicely alongside wider school training on PREVENT. There are extension activities suitable for all school types and alternative providers.

Notes for Other Subjects: Suite One has an interesting use of assessment tools to encourage student acquisition of virtues. Suite Two explores two whole-school agendas such as PREVENT and British values. Authors: Verity Currie Enfield Grammar School, Enfield; Children’s Services/Workforce Development, Derbyshire County Council (DCC); Lorellie Canning, St Bede’s and St Joseph’s Catholic College, Bradford.

This project gets students to put the theory of democracy into action. While they are completing the project they always end up encountering issues that they have to overcome and demonstrate the virtue of resilience. Verity saw self-reflection working particularly well with those who struggle as they set themselves good targets for the following lessons. DCC views this resource as a nonthreatening method of addressing radicalisation and extremism in schools of all types. Lorellie recommends asking your local MP to come in to see the results of these lessons.

Teaching Character Through Subjects

COMPUTER SCIENCE ‘A high-quality computing education equips pupils to use computational thinking and creativity to understand and change the world.’ DfE National Curriculum Purpose of Study 2013



Virtues Explored: Tolerance, respect, neighbourliness, community spirit, and integrity are explored through a project including eSafety in KS3.

Virtues Explored: Tolerance and neighbourliness are explored via problem solving in KS3.

These resources explore key issues such as eSafety and online bullying. As such, they are easily adaptable to other year groups, tutorials, and assembly work. As our culture becomes more diverse this suite highlights the importance of learning around people’s fears/needs/hopes/ ambitions. Students examine their responses when using technology and apply ideas learnt under ‘ethical, legal and cultural concerns’ for Computer Science. In each lesson they stop, think, and consider; finally; they apply their learning while thinking about e-waste.

Suite Two brings students with English as an Additional Language (EAL) to the fore. They address, via programming, methods to integrate new students and their families more effectively into school communities. Initially the students acquire knowledge/understanding through watching a video of a student who has EAL. Next they interview an EAL student in school, all the time gathering information about how such students may feel. Understanding is developed by further video clips of new technology that changes people’s lives. Students consolidate their knowledge and understanding via homework based around the virtues. In the final lesson, the students reflect on their learning of character and virtue.

Notes for Other Subjects: Suite One has strong whole school links to eSafety, and Suite Two to EAL student integration. Authors: Nigel Powell Blue Coat Church of England School and Music College, Coventry & Kathryn Austin-Bailey Aylestone School, Hereford. Nigel recognises the importance of key character qualities in embedding online safety in students, and the materials offer a clear method for delivering outstanding training in this essential area. Kathryn explains that these resources develop the learner’s understanding of tolerance and neighbourliness by seeing those traits in different situations.

DESIGN & TECHNOLOGY ‘High-quality design and technology education makes an essential contribution to the creativity, culture, wealth and well-being of the nation.’ DfE National Curriculum Purpose of Study 2013



Virtues Explored: Motivation, drive, conscientiousness, and resilience are explored through designing and making at either KS3 or 4.

Virtues Explored: Curiosity and tolerance are explored through looking at the evolution of product design and the use of customer profiles at KS3 & 4.

Notes for Other Subjects: Suite One is easily transferable to any area of Design and Technology, and possibly to other areas of the curriculum. It deals clearly with the process for developing character.

This suite uses the design cycle to show how key character qualities aid subject development, and vice versa. The resource is very open and could be applied to most subject areas and at either KS3 or 4. The materials do not focus on a particular national curriculum area, instead being designed to support and reflect virtue acquisition more generally. The resources do strongly support designing and making. The lessons ensure students first have an understanding of the virtues and the effects these can have on their life, before reflecting on themselves and others. This approach allows time for self-reflection, discussion and developing conscientiousness. Character cards are used throughout, providing opportunities for students to stop, notice, look and listen.

Suite Two explores the evolution of product design, which links directly to the KS4 curriculum for Design & Technology as students need to have an understanding of 20th century design and its influences. An understanding of design from the past and present is also required at KS3 to broaden their understanding and enable students to design products that are innovative. They also explore using Customer Profiles to generate Design Criteria; this is required at both KS3 and KS4. Students are expected to use ‘research and exploration’ to define the needs of specific customers so they can then use this to design products that meet set criteria based on the target customer and are fit for use.

Authors: Joyti Brooks John Henry Newman Catholic College, Birmingham & Wendy Bullen Holy Family Roman Catholic and Church of England College, Heywood. Jyoti explains, that, as the materials deal with quite broad, and yet essential, aspects of the Design and Technology curriculum they would be easily adapted to any key stage. Wendy points out the benefits to attainment and behaviour of being more self-aware.



Teaching Character Through Subjects

MUSIC A high-quality music education should engage and inspire pupils to develop a love of music and their talent as musicians, and so increase their self-confidence, creativity and sense of achievement.’ DfE National Curriculum Purpose of Study 2013



Virtues Explored: Neighbourliness and community spirit are explored through a KS3 project on Stomp.

Virtues Explored: Respect, perseverance, and confidence are explored through KS3 learning on Jazz & Blues.

In Suite One, the students work through the following stages: acquiring, developing, consolidating and applying. The focus in lesson one on the civic virtues comes towards the end where students reflect on how they have worked, realising they may not be considering the community they work in. This, alongside the homework activity, sees them acquire knowledge of key civic virtues. In the next lesson the opening discussion activity and the setting of a ‘civic’ challenge sees students develop their understanding of the civic virtues. This continues in lesson 3 where students work together to set targets. In these lessons they begin to apply their understanding in practical work. Finally, students apply their understanding in final performances while reflecting on their application.

This suite focuses on 12 bar blues. Respect lends itself to learning about the history of the blues and the slave trade. Perseverance allows students to be independent learners where students are provided with a ‘progress ladder’ and persevere in order to continually self-assess and move themselves forward. Confidence is needed to improvise and students are asked to mark their confidence at the start and the end of the progress to show progress. Students use the ‘caterpillar process’ to reflect and improve their work: they read their ‘progress ladders’; note what is already complete and what needs doing; listen to others on how to improve; and then move forward.

Notes for Other Subjects: Suite One has already been adapted for use in other subjects, notably Health & Social Care in KS4; Suite Two has many similarities with Suite One Mathematics and is very interesting for independent learning. Authors: Chris Drake The Winston Churchill School, Woking & Susanna Dyer Woodrush High School, Wythall.

Chris designed the materials so that the next time students are left to set their own ‘civic challenge’ they have a longer period of practical work, allowing them to consolidate and apply their understanding. Susanna has constructed a highly methodical approach to character development.

PHYSICAL EDUCATION ‘A high-quality citizenship education helps to provide pupils with knowledge, skills and understanding to prepare them to play a full and active part in society.’ DfE National Curriculum Purpose of Study 2013



Virtues Explored: : Respect and confidence in an exploration of the Police in KS3 Citizenship.

Virtues Explored: Focus, tolerance, community spirit and perseverance are explored through KS3 Adventure Activities.

This suite explores a number of virtues that are developed in each lesson. The majority are drawn from moral and performance domains, however community spirit is promoted in the final lesson. Each lesson plan has a Character Box, where the virtue being developed in that lesson is explained. Each embeds a virtue before moving on to combine it with another in the next lesson. Lessons are structured to acquire a skill/character quality, develop it, and then apply it to the task they are completing.

Suite Two shows how working within teams to complete a challenge in a competitive situation demands focus. Students can also be prone to rushing in order to win, preventing them being tolerant of others, and leading to conflict within groups. For these reasons, the materials introduce Virtue Review cards and Character Cue cards; encouraging students to discuss the focus virtue for the lesson and to follow the ‘caterpillar process’ – stop, notice, look and listen – to recognise how their actions affect others. Each lesson focuses upon a particular virtue, with the fifth encouraging the application of the previous four in order for a team to achieve success together.

Notes for Other Subjects: PE, uniquely, across both suites, approaches a virtue each lesson, an approach that might readily work in a number of other subject contexts. Authors: Liz Garrity Stoke Cooperative Academy, Stoke & Len Oakes Redhill School, Stourbridge.

In lesson 4, Liz highlights how students are developing trust by consolidating ideas and learning to work together, trusting other students to complete the task blindfolded. Len explains students are more likely to notice others who may need their support/ encouragement within these challenges.

Teaching Character Through Subjects

PSHE ‘We expect schools to use their PSHE education programme to equip pupils with a sound understanding of risk and with the knowledge and skills necessary to make safe and informed decisions.’ DfE Guidance 2013



Virtues Explored: Neighbourliness, respect, and kindness are explored in the KS3 PSHE topic of friendship.

Virtues Explored: Drive and community spirit are explored through a PSHE project on entrepreneurship.

This PSHE resource is built around neighbourliness as a key concept of successful friendship. The materials begin with an exploration of the virtue, and progress to explore how other qualities lead to being a better neighbour. External factors are introduced, ones that may ‘get in the way’ of being a good neighbour. Throughout, the materials address the ‘caterpillar process’ before introducing cyber bullying as a specific issue which the virtue of good neighbourliness addresses. In the final lesson, this is highlighted by introducing ‘random acts of kindness’.

This resource has the potential to develop more than the two named virtues. It is structured around the preparation, and then delivery, of an entrepreneurial community project. Along the way students explore several key questions mapped against the ‘caterpillar process’ and these are all outlined in the introductory materials.

Notes for Other Subjects: Suite One can be used in assemblies, tutorials and other contexts, especially as it leads to a more refined understanding of the role ‘good’ character plays in approaching eSafety. Suite Two might be used as the basis for social action projects. Authors: Ryan Hopton The Wellington Academy, Tidworth & Michelle Philip Aston Fields Middle School, Bromsgrove Ryan shows how both challenging cyber bullying and exploring random acts of kindness provide a context for reviewing virtue acquisition. Michelle noted that her students’ behaviour was outstanding and that she really saw ‘another side’ to some pupils who had previously lacked motivation.

RELIGIOUS EDUCATION ‘Religion and beliefs inform our values and are reflected in what we say and how we behave. RE is an important subject in itself, developing an individual’s knowledge and understanding of the religions and beliefs which form part of contemporary society.’ DfE Non-statutory Guidance 2010



Virtues Explored: Good sense, compassion, justice, and good speech are explored in a KS4 unit on Wealth and Poverty.

Virtues Explored: Tolerance, honesty, and community spirit are explored in a KS3 study on the life of the Buddha.

In Suite One, students are placed into scenarios, or provided with questions to reflect on. Through this reflection they have the opportunity to consider their own character qualities. Clear reflection and review opportunities cater for the ‘caterpillar process’ at key AFL moments in the lessons, so that character growth opportunities do not restrict learning, but work alongside it. This includes the use of review sheets.

The ‘caterpillar process’ is highlighted in the first lesson. This lesson also explores the importance of respect. In the next two lessons, honesty and community spirit are explored via an overview of the life, and then a more detailed exploration of ‘the four sights’. At this point the ‘caterpillar process’ is reintroduced before finally exploring some of the dilemmas people face in modern life and how they deal with them through the use of virtue.

Notes for Other Subjects: Both suites cover areas often addressed in assemblies, or perhaps as whole-school themes. If approached in such contexts they would add to the core RE delivery. Authors: Sebastian Sagnia Hastingbury Business and Enterprise College, Bedford & Caroline Thurgood Edgbarrow School, Crowthorne. Sebastian explains that the materials utilise shared character objectives alongside lesson objectives to integrate character more efficiently. Caroline is quick to acknowledge the ‘caterpillar process’ meshes well with the birth stories of the Buddha.



Teaching Character Through Subjects


The Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues website showcases many resources, papers, and projects. Many free character education resources and materials can be found at: /charactereducationresources Six of particular interest might be: •

A Framework for Character Education in Schools – This document sets out the Jubilee Centre’s position on character education and calls for all schools to be explicit about how they develop the character virtues of their students.

The Secondary Programme of Study – A comprehensive discrete taught course with detailed introductory notes on the methodology behind the approach to character education.

The Primary Programme of Study and Knightly Virtues – Two resources that provide an excellent foundation for the teaching of character education in KS1 & 2.

Character Education in UK Schools – This report presents the findings of an extensive study of character education, including over 10,000 students and 255 teachers.

Character in Marginalised Young People – An ongoing project considering why young people can become disengaged from education, employment, and society. Also shows how character education may help to address some of the causes for this disengagement.

Give Thanks, Give Back - The project explored young people’s awareness and understanding of the virtue of gratitude and what things they are personally grateful for and why.

The Association for Character Education, a not-for-profit membership organisation, is a community for schools, organisations and individuals interested in character education to share expertise and practice. The organisation supports schools, teachers and other educationalists to develop and promote character education responses that enable young people and societies to flourish. Individuals, schools and organisations can apply for membership through the website.

Teaching Character Through Subjects


The Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues would like to thank the many teachers, schools and students who made the Teaching Character Through Subjects project possible. In addition to those attributed as authors we wish to thank the following subject advisors and school facilitators: • • • • • • • • •

Meaghan Kerry , Anna Jepson, Alan Johnson, Chris McGraw, Sarah Murray, Gordon Nisbet & Leigh Parry Aldercar High School, Langley Mill; Jo Bowen, Emma Jane Bridger, Jessica Hardy, Samantha Inglis, Fiona Jelfs, Phil Lewis, Katie Mayne & Ruth Powell Ayelstone School, Hereford; Claire Atherton, Paul Briggs, Katie-Leigh Charnock, Jane Curley, Laurie Luscombe, Steve Oakes, Jessica Rothwell, Steph Sinfield, Charlotte Walker & Chris Webb The Blue Coat School, Oldham; Claire Austin, Seamus Carroll, & Debbie Peacock DCC; Rachel Barker, Jodie Gregory & Fraser Stevenson Penistone Grammar School, Sheffield; Jack Trevenna St. Mawgan-in-Pydar, Newquay; Anne Martin, Scott Garrity, & Chris Walker Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School, Ashbourne; Michael Roden University of Birmingham School, Birmingham; Kit Williams Wigmore School, Leominster.

In addition, we wish to thank Ian Morris, Wellington College, Crowthorne and Johnnie Noakes, Eton College, Windsor, for their input as character education experts. Deborah Jones and Yvonne Wheeler from the Department for Education for their support with the management and administration of this project. Finally, we would like to acknowledge the significant support and expertise provided by colleagues at the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues and in particular Professor James Arthur, Professor Kristján Kristjánsson, Aidan Thompson, Danielle Wartnaby, Victoria Hogan and Fiona Vittery.


Intelligence plus character-

that is the goal of true education MARTIN LUTHER KING

For more information about this project and to download the free the lesson plans and materials for the 14 subjects please visit: WWW.JUBILEECENTRE.AC.UK/CHARACTERTHROUGHSUBJECTS For more information about the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues please contact: tel: 0121 414 3602 email:

Teaching Character Through Subjects - Magazine  

This publication showcases suites of teaching materials that show how character virtues, prioritised by the Department for Education, such a...

Teaching Character Through Subjects - Magazine  

This publication showcases suites of teaching materials that show how character virtues, prioritised by the Department for Education, such a...